Vice-President Hamid Ansari came under attack from the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) after he delivered a speech asking for affirmative action for the Muslim community and recognition of caste disparities in the community, at the golden jubilee celebrations of the All India Majlis-e-Mushawwarat on Monday.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya minced no words terming the Vice-President’s remarks as not commensurate with the Constitutional position that he occupies. “A Vice-President’s post is a constitutional position pertaining to the entire country and not to a particular community. Mr. Hamid Ansari’s statement that ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ would be more effective if Muslims were specially taken care of or got reservations goes against Constitutional proprieties,” he said.
The Vice-President, who was wrongly criticised for not saluting the flag during the Republic Day parade this year, when he was correctly following the flag protocol, was also referred to by the BJP leader, who said that people’s respect for the Vice-President gets dimmed at such frequent transgressions.
Quite in the manner of January, social media too saw a lot of negative comments on the Vice-President. Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Surendra Jain said the Vice-President’s remarks were “communal” and did not reflect the dignity of his office.
The Hindu spoke to the Vice-President’s office which clarified that the speech had “nothing which was even remotely suggestive that the Vice-President had asked for reservations for Muslims”.
“The speech, and in fact in three speeches in the past, the Vice-President has asked that the Muslim community reform from within to face the challenges posed by the security and development scenario of the day,” said a close aide. “The references to affirmative action cannot be termed as asking for reservations, the two are different things,” he said.
The Vice-President’s speech also created a stir as it talked of recognising that caste discrimination existed among Muslim communities in India and “corrective strategies therefore have to be sought on category-differentiation admissible in Indian state practice and hitherto denied to Muslims (Scheduled Caste status) or inadequately admitted (OBC status).”
Clarifying the Vice-President’s meaning, his office said that the statement was about the things already stated in the Sachar Commission Report. “It is about recognising scheduled castes among Muslims and not reservations for Muslims on religious grounds,” said his aide. Such demands have been made by backward “Passmanda” Muslims in Bihar in the past.